Joetopia

Can’t we all just let transgender people pee in peace?

An ADA-compliant bathroom sign designed by artist Peregrine Honig graces a restroom at the 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, N.C.
An ADA-compliant bathroom sign designed by artist Peregrine Honig graces a restroom at the 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, N.C. Associated Press

It often occurs to me how lucky I am that my parents decided in the late 1960s to trade their Midwestern roots for the chance to build a family in California.

Otherwise, I might have grown up a Cubs fan in the miserable weather of Illinois, which is either oppressively hot or cold and never just right. It is like the anti-San Luis Obispo.

Or I might have grown up in Indiana, which has the same climate — but with a political slant from the 1950s. It’s just downright oppressive.

I feel for my progressive Hoosier cousin, who regularly laments the backward politics in a state whose governor became nationally known for his steadfast discrimination against same-sex couples.

Or I might have grown up in Kentucky, where a publicly employed zealot thought she could flout federal law and the U.S. Supreme Court and refuse to issue marriage certificates to gay couples.

Kim Davis and her Bible should have been shown the door on Day 1.

Or, if I had been really lucky, perhaps my parents could have moved to North Carolina, where government intolerance comes served with a side of barbecue.

The Tar Heel State landed itself in the spotlight by apparently declaring itself the Patrick Henry in the fight against transgender rights.

Give me my bathroom or give me death!

This is the spot in what increasingly looks like the United States of Un-America where the single most important issue is dictating just where you can pee. Nuance is not allowed in North Carolina. You are either this or that — and nothing else.

Problem is, the real world is not so black and white. It’s also many shades in between, and other orientations.

Thoughtful states like California realize this, and so we don’t get our knickers in a bunch fighting over just where we can drop our drawers, as long as it’s in a stall somewhere.

Thoughtful states realize that forcing an 11-year-old transgender girl — someone who was designated male at birth — to use the men’s room presents a far greater danger than the phantom threat that pedophiles will dress in drag so they can sneak into the ladies’ room.

How hard is this to understand?

Pedophiles can bust out hot pants and a wig right now!

The fact is, transgender people don’t want to stand out. They want to blend in, but with the sex that matches what’s in their head, not what’s under their clothes.

For some people, however, that is an impossible distinction, and they can’t accept it. They say you are physically either male or female, and the science stops there.

Except it doesn’t.

Sometimes science bucks the norm and things go a little awry.

Sometimes, rarely, you thought you were going to have one baby, but instead you have three.

Sometimes, rarely, you have two babies, and they come out attached at the hip, literally.

Sometimes, rarely, you have a baby born with the physical parts of a girl and the emotional parts of a boy.

Is that last baby any less true to his nature than the others, even though it may take time for that nature to be revealed?

Called “gender dysphoria,” this is an actual medical condition, and despite what ignorant troglodytes on the Internet comment boards might think, it’s not a mental illness. Parents who accept the condition are not in fact harming their child. And those kids should not just “kill themselves.”

All of those despicable opinions are in large supply in the comments section of many stories about transgender people. Go look.

Last week, President Barack Obama, apparently having had enough of this nonsense, issued a directive that all public schools must allow students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity.

It was another example of this president doing the right thing.

For us, I am proud to say, that declaration was meaningless, because three years earlier, California passed a law banning just this kind of discrimination.

So when we called around our local schools asking what kind of impact they expected, the answer we got was exactly this: none. No impact. Because there’s no problem.

Once again, California is serving as a vanguard for the nation, showing Americans that always tomorrow, we can be a better people than we are today.

If we have to drag Indiana and Kentucky and North Carolina kicking and screaming to get there, so be it.

  Comments